First Comics News: Why do you think the first KILLBOX was successful?
Tom Riordan: The credit there would have to go to [American Gothic Press Publishers and Editor] Domine Lee, Phil Kim, and Holly Interlandi for properly promoting the series. I did my best (in a limited fashion) to promote the title on my own social media, but nothing in caparison to what they accomplished. It really doesn’t hurt to have had amazing artwork on the cover either. Nathan’s covers were simply beautiful. I was completely blown away by the response the book received.
1st: What is the storyline of KILLBOX: CHICAGO?
Tom: Actually, we have a couple of different storylines going in this second arc. We continue to follow Sasha, Timothy, and Emi, but they are no longer in the box — they’re on the run, hunted. Then, the Killbox itself starts back up in a different location, so new players emerge and enter the story, like Wilky Dae and Aya Mori. Third, there’s something off with Leonard. He’s breaking down.
1st: Why and how is this story darker than the first series?
Tom: As to the why I can’t really give you a straightforward answer. Sometimes the story just takes on a life of its own; it goes where it wants to. You nudge and try to course-correct, but if the story is fighting against that, you’ve gotta surrender and go with the flow. As to the how… in this arc I spent more time on the “otherworldly” aspects of the story. The stuff that had you checking under your bed when you were a kid and is somehow still tucked away in the darker recesses of your mind.
1st: Who are Timothy, Emi, and Sasha?
Tom: Our main characters are you and me. They are just ordinary people in a horrifying situation. They’ve all made the same principal mistake (entering the box), but have all done it for drastically different reasons. Sasha enters with a little kid’s mindset, somehow thinking it would be fun; Timothy enters out of desperation, and Emi out of a sense of responsibility.
1st: How is KILLBOX: CHICAGO different art-wise than the first KILLBOX?
Tom: Marco and Nathan have similar sensibilities, an undercurrent their work that I think will help returning readers remain grounded in the world. It’ not a jarring transition at all, but their overall style differs. I think Marco is maintaining the tone of the book while putting his own signature on the finished product. His pages are fantastic.
1st: How does Killbox compare to the TV show SURVIVOR?
Tom: There are a lot of differences! For starters, the beings running the Killbox are not, strictly speaking, human. They emigrate from the “Dark Matter” portion of our universe, and Killbox is not a game show; it’s part of a much larger experiment that involves all of humanity. On the micro scale, the Killbox is not for public consumption (within the world of the book); it’s hidden away from view and is primarily a wagering enterprise.
1st: Is there lots of violence in KILLBOX: CHICAGO?
Tom: Oh, hell yes.
1st: Will there be more KILLBOX series?
Tom: Ideally there will be, but as you know there are lots of factors that come into play when publishing an ongoing series. Overall sales figures, marketing, and all of that is evaluated in an ongoing fashion. I would love to continue, but only time will tell.
1st: Who are the “Riot Clowns”?
Tom: Okay, how do I describe these guys? Riot clowns are ethereal beings with a life span in the thousands of years. They are drawn to conflict and tension and have an uncontrollable impulse to escalate that tension to violence. Initially, American Gothic and I were considering a stand-alone series, but I decided to introduce them in KILLBOX. They fit well into the expanded world.
1st: How does one become a writer?
Tom: Wow, not making the question easy, are ya? Becoming a writer? I guess it starts with reading. Read as much and as often as you can. Don’t limit the genre you read — read everything. Write as often a possible, ideally setting aside a specific time each day to do so. Don’t write strictly for publication; don’t tailor your stories like that — just write. The stories will reveal themselves to you.
1st: What comics, besides your own, would you recommend?
Tom: LOW, THE LAST DAYS OF AMERICAN CRIME [both from Image Comics]. Big fan of Tocchini and Remender! Check out the rest of AGP’s slate, some interesting titles in there. Jump on THIN first. Also, little plug to Nathan Gooden’s new title [at Vault Comics], POWERLESS.
I’m also a big Daredevil junkie with a collector’s goal of owning at least one copy of every printed issue.
1st: Any final words for fans of your work?
Tom: With all the titles out there, I hope to continue to earn your readership. Also, I’ve found out how much I enjoy interacting with fans through social media. Feel free to look me up and hit me up.